Investing in Research Partnerships

Seven teams of researchers across Colorado State University will be working together on some of the  most pressing global problems, thanks to innovative investments from the Office of the Vice President of Research.

The ability to use scientific discoveries to drive technological solutions to our global problems will require the integration of multiple disciplines and the formation of innovative partnerships across sectors.

Teams will be seeded with a critical mass of funding up to $200,000 for two years and provided infrastructural support to seek partners and resources to create and deliver novel solutions for some of our most important problems. These relationships will nurture the creation and delivery of solutions in energy, health, and the environment.

We are excited about this new program and the tremendous response we have received across campus. The Catalyst for Innovative Partnerships investments were created to encourage research teams to collaborate with new partners and find innovative ways to solve complicated, global problems in line with our rich land-grant heritage.

Congratulations to the following teams:

Team Members

Developing Advanced Polymeric Materials for Grand Challenges
Sue James, Ellen Fisher and Matt Kipper, Eugene Chen, David Dandy, Arun Kota, Melissa Reynolds, Chris Snow, Travis Bailey, Ketul Popat, Christie Peebles, Tom Chen, Christian Puttlitz, Vivian Li, Jeni Cross, Stu Tobet This group will develop and exploit new synergies to solve two grand challenges associated with modern polymers and plastics:   development of renewable/ sustainable feed stocks for polymers and designing biocompatible polymers for use in applications such as tissue engineering, vascular grafts and implantable medical devices. COE, CNS, CVMBS, CHHS, CLA
Rural Village Microgrid
Daniel Zimmerle, Amy Young, Meghan Suter, Eric Aoki, Kathleen Galvin, Peter Means, Paul Hudnut, Dale Manning, Keith Paustian and Doo-ho Park The overall goal of this initiative is to establish a trans-disciplinary and cross-cultural team to design, test, and validate energy-based solutions for rural African villages utilizing microgrid technology built on clean energy and hopes to use this effort as a catalyst for comprehensive rural development. CLA, COB, CAS, CHHS, COE, Energy Institute
Innovation Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Matthew Wallenstein, Richard Conant, Gregory Graff, Courtney Jahn, Andrew Jones, Ken Reardon, Meagan Schipanski Through this initiative, the team will advance innovations to feed more people with reduced environmental impacts globally by harnessing the power of soil microbial communities and plant-soil-microbe interactions. WCNR, CAS, COE
Partnership for Air Quality, Climate, and Health
A. R. Ravishankara, Sonia Kreidenweis, Jennifer Peel, John Volckens, Marilee Long This team will implement a structure and support facility to comprehensively integrate CSU-wide capabilities in air quality, climate, and health, while focusing on communicating scientific findings to stakeholders in innovative ways so as to inform and direct individuals as well as climate policy. CNS, CVMBS, COE, CLA
Fort Collins Urban Resiliency: EcoDistricts and Triple-Helix Community Development
Jeni Cross, Brian Dunbar, and Choi As the earth’s population becomes increasingly urban, cities are facing complex economic, social, and environmental challenges that are best met through the collaborative effort of municipalities, private business, and researchers – the triple-helix approach proposed by this team. CLA, CHHS, CAS
Institute for Genome Architecture and Function
Karolin Luger, Jennifer DeLuca, Randy Bartels, Ashok Prasad, Travis Bailey, Cristiana Argueso Establishing an institute for Genome Architecture and Function will allow this team of researchers to explore the organization of genetic material in the cell which affects the development and progression of a wide range of diseases including cancer. CNS, COE, CVMBS
Coalition for Development and Implementation of Sensor Systems
David Dandy, Tom Chen, Chuck Henry, Anura Jayasumana, Rick Lyons, Jennifer Mueller, Sangmi Pallickara, Lori Peek, Ken Reardon, Melissa Reynolds, John Volckens The mission of this team is to unite researchers focused on designing and developing integrated chemical and biological sensors and sensor networks that address critical needs in prevention, monitoring, and treatment applications including infectious diseases, cancer, water, food safety and energy. COE, CNS, CLA, CVMBS, IDRC

The Juice is Better than the Squeeze?: The Muse. January 24

The Juice is Better than the Squeeze?

I resonated with this adage until recently acquiring an industrial strength juicer.  The satisfaction of watching that machine pulverize any vegetable it sees has made me more mindful about the power of the squeeze.  Outside of my third and fourth digits, I have challenged my juicer with a number of things one should never juice.  The stark reality of the taste of some of the juices that have emanated from this stainless steel monster (wheat grass, kale, ginger and garlic) made me think that maybe sometimes it’s the squeeze that was the more enjoyable and  important part and not to be so focused on the juice even if it’s good for me.  I’ll admit this does not come naturally to me and is definitely a work in progress with much more to be revealed.

This adage was on my mind at this week’s SPARCfest open forum which some of you may know is the presentation of the University strategic plan from various parts of the organization.  I had the privilege of presenting for the Research and Discovery SParc committee consisting of representatives across campus. I presented four basic tenants of our research enterprise that in my early travels around campus seem to represent intangibles for our strategic planning efforts.

  • Nurture the Positive Culture of Research Curiosity, Collaboration and Entrepreneurship
  • Preserve and Grow the Land Grant Mission in New and Established Mission Spaces
  • Search for Ways to Break Out in an ‘Era of Big Bets’ – Establish and Nurture Enabling and Sustainable Priorities
  • Excel in People, Products (Knowledge, Training, Translation, Service, Policy), and Processes in Discovery and Innovation

These tenants provide the backdrop to create a dialogue on specific initiatives or actions we might take to implement against defined goals.  A good deal of my listening to faculty on campus has focused on striving for excellence in people, processes and products.  One clear consensus was the interest to create more opportunities to facilitate horizontal interdisciplinary teaming for diverse, complex and sometimes large fundraising opportunities.

In my SPARCfest presentation this week I used the Harp as a touchstone for stimulating constructive dialogue.  The Harp or Lyre may be the oldest musical instrument in human history with first artistic renderings that appear on cave dwellings in France circa 15000 BC.  The Harp was likely derived from hunting with bow and arrow and the sound of the arrow release and twang of the string and bow.  The beautiful symphonic sound that emanates from the breadth of musical scales covered in the harp tied to a hunting origin make it a useful touchstone for the hunting of big research opportunities we would like to stimulate.  This could implicate useful evaluation of how we seed new horizontal opportunities (or notes and scales) as well as provide infrastructural support for the increasingly challenging hunt.  We already have some wonderful horizontal enterprises on campus.  The SPARCfest presentations are on the provost website and I encourage you to look at them and please let me know if you have comments.

My experiences with strategic planning, probably like many of you, are varied.  We strive to set a future course based on defined goals and objectives and often wrestle with how to best implement plans in a dynamic world where predicting futures is very hard.  Yet the process of coming together to create a dialogue around common goals and strategic priorities is a fertile ground for setting course for new directions.  So join me on the squeeze ahead and let’s make some juice!

Finally, I was very moved by the inaugural Presidents Community Lecture Series with Steve Withrow this week.  I am just getting to know Steve and to hear him talk about his rich journey at CSU and all of the vision, passion, and service he and his team have is very humbling.  It’s another great example of the outstanding scholars and statesmen and women we have here at CSU.  And, of course, being in the University Center for the Arts building is always a special treat to visit the musician’s bust on the landing of the staircase of Griffin Concert Hall.